BUCKFIELD — Bee populations in Maine have been hit harder than they have in more than a decade with bees dying off in large numbers.

Beekeeper Tony Bachelder of Buckfield says he usually has about 700 healthy hives to produce honey and pollinate farm fields across Maine. But this spring, only 500 of his hives are buzzing, and many of those have only a fraction of their usual number.

State apiarist Anthony Jadczak tells the Sun Journal that a big reason for the die-off was the dry weather last summer followed by a poor fall for the bees.

But he’s confident the bees will rebound.

Bachelder and others put part of the blame for the die-off on a chemical insecticide that has been blamed for die-offs in some European countries.